The Meccanoid G15 KS robotic kit can be regarded as the Erector set of our times and is quite possibly the toy most of us have always wanted. In true Meccano style the set allows for building a life-size 1.2 meter (4 foot) tall humanoid robot which can walk, talk and even sense its environment. Meccanoid aims to attract children 5 to 14 years old into building and programming their own personal robot, although I believe that many makers and enthusiasts will adopt this platform quite easily since it is open-source, well connected and seems to be pretty versatile.
The Meccanoid robotics building platform was introduced by Canadian toy company Spin Master last week at CES in Las Vegas, where it has won the “Last Gadget Standing” people’s choice award and was also favored by several prestigious publications. Spin Master has bought the iconic 115-year-old Meccano brand back in 2013.
A programmable intelligent computing unit called “Mecca Brain” represents the core of the platform, offering elevated levels of interactivity. It can perform voice recognition, initiate conversations, and even tell jokes or play trivia games, offering 12 different setups including an “Autonomous Personality” mode where, to some extent, the robot can react on its own. Over 100 pre-programmed voice commands are available, however the user can record any number of additional commands.
There are three methods of programming the Mecca Brain. First of them is LIM or Learned Intelligent movement, which sounds more complicated than it is, basically the robot records any movement manually applied to its limbs, head and body, and plays back the sequence, very similar to early robotic manipulators. The robot can record accompanying speech sequences, playing them back accordingly.
Second is Ragdoll-style remote control from an iOS or Android app. The Mecca Brain communicates with a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth LE, executing almost in real time any movement applied from the device’s screen.
The third way is motion capture. Through the camera of a smartphone attached to its chest the robot is able to mirror any of the child’s movements, which could be equally entertaining for adults I suspect.
The Meccanoid kit is fully backwards compatible with classic Meccano parts. Part design will be fully open source, 3D files will be made available to everyone for customizing and printing.
The Meccanoid G15 KS robot kit will be available on sale in Fall this year for a price of about US $399, or about 345 Euro.
Meccanoid G15 KS Quick Specs
- Kit contents: 550 polycarbonate parts, backwards commpatible with classic Meccano, open source design
- Model builds: 1220 mm (4 feet) tall humanoid robot, dinosaur, other models to follow
- Mecca Brain programmable intelligent computing unit with voice recognition, interactive responses, Autonomous Personality
- Programming and control: Learned Intelligent Movement (LIM), iOS/Android app remote control and motion tracking
- Memory: 64 MB
- Communication: Bluetooth LE
- Actuators: 8 Smart servos with positioning sensors and status LEDs, 2 bidirectional standard motors
- Power: Rechargeable Ni-MH battery, 6A dual motor drivers
- Other: RGB LED eyes, micro USB for firmware updates, open-source software
- Price (est.): US $399, 345 Euro
- Availability: Fall 2015